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Jim Henderson / Eyewitness Sports Director

NEW ORLEANS -- A few long touchdown throws from the Saints practice field where they cannot practice, the Saints play softball Zephyr Field where they can.

The cause is a good one, Heath Evans' foundation to benefit sexually abused children, but the atmosphere surrounding this team and the league they earn their living in is not.

In Minneapolis today, the two sides in the labor dispute ended their latest mediated session with no progress apparent.

Both sides continue to tow the company line.

The owners say conversation, not litigation is the solution.

'We have an opportunity to resolve this matter and get the game back on the field and that really should be our exclusive focus, not litigation, not stays, injunctions, things like that,' said Jeff Pash, lead counsel for NFL. 'That's not going to solve anything.

The players say litigation will ultimately win the day for them.

Despite a Federal Appeals Court saying Monday that the lockout remains in effect, the players say a June 3 hearing into the lockout's legality will provide them a victory, even though the hearing will before the same panel that reaffirmed the lockout.

'We feel like we have a very strong case,' said Drew Brees, 'as was already ruled upon in federal court in Minnesota by Judge Nelson, the 92-page brief that she wrote basically stating all the reasons why she felt the lockout should be enjoined, the fact that it is illegal.'

Meanwhile, it is the uncertainty that is driving everyone crazy.

It is harder to deal with lack of solution, than a resolution. No preseason, shortened preseason, shortened regular season, no regular season, the only thing that becomes clearer with each passing day is that the normal course of events in the NFL is evermore threatened.

For the time being, the Saints are professionals on the softball field only.

'Right now our guys are out there working out for free,' DeMaurice Smith executive director of the NFLPA.

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